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The Mexican border city of Juarez suffered another tragic burst of violence this weekend. Early Sunday morning, more than a dozen young people at a high school party were massacred by gunmen wielding high-caliber rifles.
Juarez is across the border from El Paso, Texas and is no stranger to mass killings. In the last two years alone, more than 4,200 people have been killed.
Monica Ortiz Uribe reports.
(Soundbite of crowd)
MONICA ORTIZ URIBE: Outside the front doors of a modern-looking hospital the size of a city block, dusk falls Sunday night on a crowd of sleep-deprived family members. At the time, they were awaiting news about 17-year-old Juan Carlos Medrano, who was in the operating room wounded by multiple gunshots. His mother was slumped in a plastic chair with a fuzzy blue blanket covering her legs and a look of defeat on her face.
Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)
URIBE: No, no, I can't talk right now, she told the reporter. She held out one hand and placed the other against her forehead. Within hours, her son had died. Juan Carlos was among 14 young people hospitalized after armed men stormed a party and opened fire. Ten people died at the scene, at least five later. More than half the victims were high school students. One girl was just 13 years old.
Mr.�ARTURO CHACON (Reporter, El Norte): (Speaking foreign language)
URIBE: Arturo Chacon is a reporter at the Juarez newspaper El Norte. The killings took place in three tiny side-by-side homes in a south Juarez neighborhood. Witnesses told authorities that the killers pulled up to the houses in four SUVs and blocked off the street. Then, l5 shooters went into the houses and began the killings.
Chacon describes the block when he arrived.
Mr.�CHACON: The neighbors were all around and out of the streets just walking, but with these strange faces, like very scared and panicked, still in panic.
URIBE: The photographs from the crime scene look like something out of a horror film. The concrete floors are awash in wide puddles of blood that soak plastic cups and potato chip bags left over from the festivities. Bloodstained handprints blot the walls inches away from multiple bullet holes. Chacon said the air still smelled of gunpowder.
At a press conference, state Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez Gonzalez(ph) refused to point fingers at the drug cartels.
(Soundbite of crowd)
URIBE: But there is no question that Sunday's murders were carried out in the style typical of drug gang shootings. Juarez has seen more than 200 murders since the beginning of this year despite thousands of federal police and military who have been brought in to patrol the streets.
Howard Campbell is a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso. He says the massacre is further evidence that the Mexican government has no control over the violence sweeping the nation.
Professor�HOWARD CAMPBELL (Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso): And that's why people are, with impunity, able to come into a party and massacre large numbers of people and disappear. No one's ever caught, no one's ever punished and no one knows exactly the reason why and what can be done to stop this.
URIBE: Back at the hospital, football coach Fernando Gallego has little hope for justice. Two of his players were killed as a result of Sunday's party and three others remain in intensive care.
Mr.�FERNANDO GALLEGO (Football Coach): (Speaking foreign language)
URIBE: Young people can't go anywhere now to have fun, he said, so they cloister themselves and get together at friends' house and even there they are targeted. Gallego did not want to speculate the motive behind the killings. He said his athletes were motivated by sports and schoolwork.
Mr.�GALLEGO: (Speaking foreign language)
URIBE: With no end in sight to the violence, Gallego sighs and says all we can do is pray, pray, pray.
For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe.
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